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Building a
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Web project
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1. Brainstorming at a Distance
2. Brainstorming techniques
3. When to get to work

3. Brainstorming- Getting to Work

If you spend too much time warming up, you'll miss the race. If you don't warm up at all, you may not finish the race.

Grant Heidrich, runner

So when do you stop brainstorming and get into the race? The truth is, you're really never finished with brainstorming. You'll find that you will be brainstorming solutions all through the creative process. Like Bill Hill says, "brainstorming is a great way to get unstuck".

A better suggestion is "when do you start putting your ideas into action?"

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"We preferred to talk about what we were going to do with the site, rather than doing it"

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Student Rhys Southan, who helped develop the award winning educational Web project, The Motion Picture Industry: Behind-the-Scenes, sums up this problem of putting ideas into action.

"There was some trouble getting the energy to really get started. We preferred talking about what we were going to do with the site, rather than doing it. It's hard to get involved with such an immense project and not have much to show for it right away."

The first step is to take all the ideas you have generated and organize them into a workable solutions.

Edit your ideas: This requires a balance. You want to be realistic enough to keep the project doable. But, you also want to be creative enough to take a few risks, push the envelope and say something new and fresh.

Many designers will create a matrix where they compile all their ideas and judge them using an evaluation criteria.

The first criteria you will want to apply is whether the project fosters collaboration:

  • Will this idea help create participation by other students?
  • Will it permit the sharing of ideas and data?
  • Does it provide some educational value for the audience?
  • Are these ideas appropriate for the audience we have determined?
  • Do these ideas foster collaborative learning?

Another criteria to judge your ideas is a feasibility criteria:

  • Is this idea doable in the timeframe we have?
  • Do I have to learn a number of new technologies or skills to make this idea come to life? It's important that each project gives you an opportunity to learn a new skill, but you need to be cautious of learning too many things in too short a time. 
  • Do I have the resources required to carry out this idea; i.e., digital camera, scanner, 3-D modeling program? If you don't have the resources readily available, do you know how to find them.

Evaluate your ideas: Now that you've eliminated a number of ideas, it's time to take a closer look at the ideas that you have. During this process, you will find that a number of patterns will emerge. Organize these patterns according to subject. Mix and match different ideas to see the results.

You should also test these ideas out. If the idea doesn't grow, you'll probably want to discard it.

Put your ideas into action: The evaluation process should have focused the scope of your ideas. Now, it's time to put these ideas into clear and concise statements.

Define each idea into a single message that is easily understood. "This Web site will allow the audience to learn the history, the mechanics and the future of bridge building" Another idea might read, "this Web site will allow the audience to create their own Java version of a bridge to share with others."

The goal of these early brainstorming sessions is to identify the vision or goal of your project. And, this vision can be nothing more than a simple statement that:

  • All team members have agreed upon and understand
  • And that states the opportunity or problem the Web project is meant to solve.

At this time your team should agree on a development strategy that describes in detail just how you will take this idea and create a successful networked collaborative Web project.

Section: Brainstorming introduction
Page 1: Brainstorming at a Distance
Page 2: Brainstorming techniques
Page 3: When to get to work
Next Section: Development Strategy

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